"Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" is a song by The Beatles which was the first Pop song to use a Sitar - George Harrison played it. Harrison was new to the Sitar and took many takes to get it right. He bought the instrument, which he described as "crummy," and taught himself to play. It was David Crosby of The Byrds who introduced Harrison to the sitar shortly after the Folk musician Shawn Phillips had shown him the basic steps. A few months later, Harrison studied the Sitar with Indian musician Ravi Shankar, who helped Harrison explore Eastern music and religion.
In an interview with Rolling Stone in 1971, John Lennon explained why it was decided to use the sitar on this song. He recalled: "I think it was at the studio. George had just got the sitar and I said 'Could you play this piece?' We went through many different sort of versions of the song, it was never right and I was getting very angry about it, it wasn't coming out like I said. They said, 'Well just do it how you want to do it' and I said, 'Well I just want to do it like this.' They let me go and I did the guitar very loudly into the mike and sang it at the same time and then George had the sitar and I asked him could he play the piece that I'd written, you know, dee diddley dee diddley dee, that bit, and he was not sure whether he could play it yet because he hadn't done much on the sitar but he was willing to have a go, as is his wont, and he learned the bit and dubbed it on after. I think we did it in sections."
John Lennon: "I was trying to write about an affair without letting my wife know I was having one. I was sort of writing from my experiences - girl's flats, things like that. I was very careful and paranoid because I didn't want my wife, Cyn, to know that there really was something going on outside of the household. I'd always had some kind of affairs going on, so I was trying to be sophisticated in writing about an affair, but in such a smoke-screen way that you couldn't tell. But I can't remember any specific woman it had to do with." (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
Norwegian Wood is a fake wood that was used to make cheap furniture. Lennon knew people who were using it in their homes and thought it would make a good title.
There are not many lyrics in this song, but they tell the story of a man who gets invited to a girl's house. When she won't let him into her bed, he sleeps in the tub. When she leaves the next morning, he sets the place on fire. It was one of the first songs Lennon wrote that told a complete story.
The Beatles recorded this on October 12, 1965, the first day of the Rubber Soul sessions. The first take of the song, which is included on the Anthology 2 CD and includes George's sitar much more prominently, was originally going to be put on Rubber Soul until a remake was made a week or two later. The notes in the Anthology 2 album verify this. (thanks, Adrian - Wilmington, DE)